Ireland is on the verge of enacting the most draconian anti-speech law in the West
Ireland, a country that long chafed under England’s repressive governance, is about to become very repressive itself. It’s about to put into effect a speech bill so repressive that anyone who even receives a text that runs afoul of the law could be arrested if he does not immediately delete and disavow the text. This is where the Western world, once the bastion of intellectual liberty, has ended.
The law, entitled “Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022,” passed through the legislature in February, with only 4 representatives out of 160 voting against it. Most in the public weren’t even aware of the bill and, if they’d thought about it, they probably would have congratulated themselves on being a nice country in which “hate” speech is barred.
It was only when an Irish conservative commentator, Keith Woods, who was reinstated on Twitter thanks to Elon Musk’s commitment to free speech, that word got out:
Ireland is about to pass one of the most radical hate speech bills yet. Merely possessing "hateful" material on your devices is enough to face prison time.— Keith Woods (@KeithWoodsYT) April 28, 2023
Not only that, but the burden of proof is shifted to the accused, who is expected to prove they didn't intend to use the… https://t.co/DA41PEfvbt pic.twitter.com/UGKWzz66kM
It's a little hard to tell from that snippet exactly what’s going on, so let me fill in a few blanks. First, the bill has all sorts of sections and subsections for different speech offenses. They all revolve around silencing anything but positive speech about people with “protected characteristics.” Those characteristics are race, “colour,” nationalist, religion, national or ethnic origin, descent, gender, sex characteristics, sexual orientation, or disability.” “Gender,” the bill explains, includes the whole nonsensical panoply of gender identity.
“Hatred” is defined in the law…to mean “hatred”:
“hatred” means hatred against a person or a group of persons in the State or elsewhere on account of their protected characteristics or any one of those characteristics;
In other words, just as Humpty Dumpty once told Alice that “When I use a word…it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less,” in Ireland, “hatred” can mean whatever the powers that be say it means.
Image by azerbaijan_stockers (edited)
And then there are all the things you mustn’t do. You cannot engage in “incitement to violence or hatred against persons on account of their protected characteristics.” This means you cannot incite violence against people in those protected classes, something with which most would agree.
But you also cannot incite “hatred,” a much harder term to nail down. When I say that so-called transgender activists are targeting children for toxic hormones and mutilating surgery, I’d probably be guilty in Ireland of inciting “hatred” and find myself locked up for a year or even five years.
You also may not engage in “condonation, denial or gross trivialization of genocide, etc., against persons on account of their protected characteristics.” As a Jew, I take seriously Holocaust denial or trivialization, but that doesn’t mean I think those who engage in it should go to jail. That’s because I have a First Amendment mindset. I believe good speech drives out bad (if one is given the chance to voice good speech).
And then there’s the really scary one that Keith Woods highlighted: “Offence of preparing or possessing material likely to incite violence or hatred against persons on account of their protected characteristics.” I’ve already discussed the vagueness of the term “hatred.” Significantly, you are presumptively guilty if you prepare or possess this material. Possession could mean reading an article on your phone or computer or failing to delete a text message. There are only three defenses:
(1) the material serves a higher cause such as art, literature, politics, etc. There’s no standard for determining whether your contribution is “reasonable and genuine.”
(2) The material is subject to an absolute privilege.
(3) The material is necessary for a lawful police purpose. (It’s unclear if you’re allowed to possess the material if you’re the lawyer for the defendant.)
The punishment for this wrongdoing is up to two years in jail. Significantly, guilt is presumed, and the person charged has the burden of proving innocence. This is a huge inversion of the ancient common law standard that exists in America: Innocent until proven guilty.
Woods explained how the law will really work:
This year the Garda commissioner said his police force were monitoring so-called "far-right" agitators involved with protests against immigration.— Keith Woods (@KeithWoodsYT) May 1, 2023
Unfortunately for him, opposing mass immigration isn't a crime. Hate speech laws will make it easy to target dissenters like this. pic.twitter.com/WfGlfrg3OY
Once Woods’ tweet about the law got out, several famous names responded with shock and disgust:
This is a massive attack against freedom of speech— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2023
Coming your way, Canadians: Bill C-11 is just the beginning. This is where Ireland already stands: https://t.co/pKQ2wX4Ik1— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) May 1, 2023
It’s insane what’s happening in the “free world” https://t.co/BXEJoR1ios— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 30, 2023
We in America feel sheltered from this madness thanks to our First Amendment, but we shouldn’t. The First Amendment is only an idea. If the government refuses to abide by it, there’s nothing left. Just look at what happened when Biden refused to abide by America’s immigration laws.
In addition, as Elon Musk’s Twitter Files have demonstrated, the companies controlling the technology through which we all communicate are anxious to get into bed with a left-leaning government. So, while the government hides behind plausible deniability, it’s nevertheless censoring and otherwise punishing those who oppose it. Moreover, as we’ve seen with the criminalization of protests on January 6, and the hagiographic elevation of BLM protests, there’s nothing stopping the government from deciding what speech it will allow and what it will ban.
The essence of a free society is free speech. And here’s a little secret: You can always tell when a society is going down the road to totalitarianism by its treatment of Jews—or, nowadays, its hostility to Israel, which is a stand-in for Jews. Every nation that is not free, and eventually bans speech, guns, and other core liberties, first turns against Jews. Ireland despises Israel.
Given the Democrat party’s open hostility to Israel, you know that it’s getting ready to head down the same totalitarian road as Ireland, Canada, and other leftist-run countries.